High school esports startup PlayVS raises $15 million in funding

The San Francisco 49ers are among the investors.

Image via PlayVS

PlayVS has raised a huge chunk of cash.

The high school esports startup garnered $15 million in a Series A funding round led by New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm with an interest in technology and healthcare. Other investors include Nas, the San Francisco 49ers, NBA All-Star Baron Davis, Twitch COO Kevin Lin, and New York Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, among others.

Related: A startup aims to bring esports to high schools across the United States

PlayVS is slated to start its inaugural esports seasons in October 2018 across up to 20 states. The program will bring esports to 5,000 high schools and five million students, according to the press release. Participating schools and esports titles will be announced in July. PlayVS is targeting three genres of esports titles—MOBAs, fighting games, and sports games.

Money from the latest funding round will be used to expand the PlayVS team and to build out the company’s esports infrastructure. In collaboration with the National Federation of State High School Associations, a partnership established in April, the esports infrastructure will be accessible for a huge range of students.

“Our exclusive partnership with the NFHS and NFHS Network was the first step toward creating a league system that will impact millions of kids’ lives in an extremely positive way,” PlayVS founder and CEO Delane Parnell said in a statement. “Now, with our Series A, we can take all the steps necessary to ensure that our inaugural season is a massive success while being affordable for schools, parents and students across the country.”

PlayVS’s $15 million Series A funding round is now the largest ever raised by a black founder in the consumer internet industry, according to the press release.

“The esports industry has long been workding towards creating an aspirational ladder to professional competitive gaming as in traditional sports,” Twitch co-founder and COO Kevin Lin said. “Having a clear path from high school to college to playing professionally will not only help accelerate the adoption of esports, but also ensures a sustainable enterprise as the industry grows. PlayVS is uniquely positioned to organize high school esports in a clear and constructive way, shepherding more esports stars to the main stage through career-driven options.”